On Tuesday, The Daily Beast reported that the Internal Revenue Service has stripped tax exempt status from a dark money organization headed up by Donald Trump ally Steve Bannon.
"Filings posted in August show the IRS essentially rendered defunct Citizens of the American Republic, the MAGA-boosting group Bannon founded shortly after his unceremonious ouster as ex-President Donald Trump’s chief strategist in 2017. The move effectively cuts off the organization’s capacity to raise and spend unlimited funds from anonymous donors for political ends," reported William Bredderman and Zachary Petrizzo. "The organization was reportedly troubled from the outset, and was a key part of the embezzlement case that saw federal officers arrest the right-wing svengali off the deck of a billionaire’s yacht in August 2020 — only for Trump to pardon Bannon shortly before exiting the White House in 2021."
According to the report, the IRS investigated Citizens of the American Republic after it failed to file taxes for three years in a row — although Bannon has blamed this on federal investigators interfering with the organization.
"In pressing the case, prosecutors highlighted how Citizens of the American Republic received $380,000 from another Bannon project, We Build the Wall, which had crowdfunded cash for the purported purpose of constructing Trump’s promised border barrier," said the report. "The government’s lawyers noted that in text message exchanges, Bannon indicated Citizens of the American Republic would compensate his partner Brian Kolfage for his service to We Build the Wall, which the pair had publicly boasted was unpaid."
We Build The Wall became infamous for allegedly being used as a fraud scheme, where Bannon and Kolfage pocketed the money Trump supporters sent them for construction of the former president's long-sought border project. Two men also involved in the scheme have pleaded guilty to charges related to it.
While Bannon escaped prosecution over this scheme with Trump's pardon, he was convicted earlier this year on two counts of contempt of Congress, stemming from his refusal to cooperate with subpoenas from House investigators into the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.